One of the latest additions to the fast-growing Inspera team is João Lino, who recently joined from Portugal. Inspera is a Norwegian edtech company. They currently have 110 employees, of which 60 per cent are international – most of them based in Norway, but also in a number of other locations globally. One of the biggest challenges right now is to attract enough talent to keep up the pace developing their digital assessment products. We caught up with João, who shares some of his very first experiences from arriving and settling in Oslo, and a bit of advice when relocating here.
How was your first meeting with Oslo?
Upon my arrival in Oslo, in July 2020, I had previously been to Trondheim twice, in October 2019 and January 2020. For work, but including some very Norwegian activities. This time, I was coming to Oslo, during a pandemic, on a one-way ticket. I had a 21-day stay booked at Anker Apartment, planning to stay away from my wife and 2 girls for 2 months. And I had a fresh new job with Inspera.
Getting out of the airplane and airport, I did pause to enjoy the moment after I had just cleared immigration. It felt big. From the airport I took a bus so I could see the roads, surrounding areas and essentially scout areas to settle in, after the quarantine. As the bus got closer and closer to my destination, I remember wondering if the whole city was as beautiful as that area. Getting off the bus, still wearing a mask, I felt like an outsider for the first time - no one was wearing a mask in the street! I was the only one. From there, I went straight to my hotel room and started to rebuild my desktop computer, to get to work.
What immediate positives and challenges did you face?
On the positives, I got help from Inspera to build a plan of action, from hired to "successfully migrated". Having that high level of commitment from my employer relaxed me enough to be able to enjoy the adventure. The city and surrounding areas, which I am still exploring, are beautiful and excellent for outdoor exercise. There is a wide range of transportation options and I have been able to source any grocery item I can think of, locally. It's still early for me to be completely immersed in the culture, my girls are still not here, but I'm enjoying hiking in the woods during the weekend and running in the city centre during the week. So far, Oslo seems like a great place to live a healthy life.
The major challenge was getting an appointment to register to apply for a d-number. Online application is the only possible way to do it during the pandemic. I did it soon after I arrived in Norway and the wait was 1.5 months long at the time. I was told by colleagues that I could switch the appointment to an earlier date in case someone cancelled, I just needed to monitor the UDI website for those openings. I monitored it intensely for a week and nothing happened. I then gave up and braced myself for the long wait. Curiously, another day while checking the queue - 2.5 months - I was able to schedule an appointment for the next day. That's priceless!
Other challenges I encountered are related to this first one, the d-number. You can buy groceries, rent an apartment and get transportation subscriptions, but you can't get any kind of utility that I know of - no electricity, no internet and no bank account - except for kindergarten, without the number. I'm glad I prepared for this because it could have been catastrophic.
What it is like to work in Oslo?
The people and the culture are the two main reasons my family decided to come to Norway. I am enjoying the honesty, the focus, the pride and the mindfulness of the people I cross paths with, inside and outside my work life. Work ethic is excellent, professionalism is excellent, and people talk passionately about their job and what they are achieving collectively. This is the reality of Inspera and will not necessarily translate to every other business. The size of the company, the industry, the goals, the market and other factors also play into what my work life looks like. There are challenges, there is friction and some times even panic, like any other place, and it's addressed. There is also cake!
In the tech industry there are also a lot of benefits, tax deductions and incentives. I've been getting familiar with those, with the help of my colleagues. Overall I feel fortunate and I'm enjoying being in Oslo building the Inspera assessment platform.
Do you have a few advice on what to look out for when moving?
Have a solid global plan ready from day 1, with backups and exit strategies. Run it by others to be sure you've covered every essential. As you move along, research everything diligently only to a point where you are left with enough room to enjoy yourself and the company of others.